Monday, April 15, 2024

Emotional Support Animal

Trailering post still coming... I keep wanting to wait until we've got it "fixed" but that's probably a silly urge given how horses work. 

Herro! Emotional Support Horse reporting for duty. Insert cookie payment now please! 

For the time being in our trailering journey, we're relying on friends. Which is a crutch. But more so a crutch in the sense that it provides support while the basics get stronger. At least I hope that's what's happening. My husband pointed out that it's easier to establish good habits than break bad ones. He had a bird dog who was afraid of the gun shot his whole life because he hadn't taken the time in the beginning. With that in mind, I'm desperately trying to make all of Goggle's longer trips involve a trailer buddy. As mentioned before, I failed to line up someone to go show with us, so I took advantage of Ben's current unemployment and put him to work. Goggles and Ben have shared the trailer going to a lesson and as temporary encouragement

Side note, when finding the second post and pictures, I read the line at the bottom of the post "He comes out ready to learn and is so far the easiest (and largest...) baby ever."  and had to snicker at myself a bit. While he ABSOLUTELY comes out ready to learn, I stand corrected on the easiest baby part. Anyways, naivete aside... 

Why no, I don't have a type, why would you ask? 

Ben is not necessarily the BEST choice for a trailer buddy because he isn't a particularly relaxed traveler. He doesn't eat and instead stands and flings his head consistently or sits on the butt bar. But I'd noticed on the way to our lesson in January, Goggles doesn't actually care. He doesn't feed off Ben's nervous energy and is just thrilled to have another horse in the trailer with him. This held true this trip as well and while Ben flung his head around, Goggles tore into his alfalfa. 

Ben is a case in point of what I DON'T want Goggles to be - an anxious traveler 

I was very glad I had brought Ben when we got there. Ben might not travel that well, but he is definitely a pro at hanging and eating at shows. I purposely parked close to the warm up area so that Goggles could take in those sights while relaxing. They chilled together while I checked in. Once off the trailer, Goggles kept his pretty chill vibes intact. 

Wild white eye showing

Every time I see a side picture, I barely recognize him, when did he grow up??

Upon his return from dressage, he got tucked back in and they were given a bucket of water... Goggles then DELIGHTED in drinking AND flinging the water through the tack room window. He and Ben took turns shoving their faces into the water bucket with hay. They were most pleased as was I. 

New skill unlocked: drinking at shows 

Then came the time where I screwed up... I had 4 hours between dressage and stadium. I had brought Ben's tack, so we went for a little dressage school with wide circles back to the trailer sometimes to make sure Goggles wasn't tearing it to pieces. Goggles did a variety of things while we were gone, but at one point I did see him eating a bite of hay, which is a win as well. Then I put Ben up and reunited them. 

About an hour before I was supposed to jump, I figured I would take Goggles to hang by the stadium ring for a bit. I brought him in his flat leather halter and plain 10' cotton lead. Mistakes. 

He ate grass for a second, but then started screaming, then started spinning. I quickly moved him away from the arena so I wasn't THAT person. Dressage warm up was now empty, so we found an area there. And I proceeded to fly a LARGE horse kite for the next 30 minutes. I was able to be really zen about this and just use the cowboy's method (approximation of since I was an idiot with a short lead and flat leather halter) and hang out. Goggles lept, reared, kicked, squealed, bolted at one point (and I barely held onto him) and flung himself down on the ground several times. I figured when AT showed up to help us warm up if that was still what we were doing, it was what it was. But eventually I recognized the signs that he was checking back in with me. He stopped ONLY pointing himself back towards the trailer (towards Ben who was SO HELPFULLY screaming for him) and started kinda nuzzling up to me.

We were able to head back to the trailer at that point with him walking politely behind me. I tried to get him cleaned up since he was now sweaty and covered in sand and grass from his rolling. I also called that good enough after a few minutes of stiff brushing, and we headed over to warm up. 

I shared the nice pictures in the other post, seems like time for this hilarious video snag

Lesson learned - take him out EARLIER in his rope halter and WITH GLOVES to break the umbilical cord. I'm still quite glad I brought Ben, I think the hangin' that they did was SO GOOD. We have plenty of time to work on the obsessive attachment (and maybe with another horse who doesn't participate quite as much, thankyousomuchBEN!). The fact that I did spy Goggles eating hay while Ben was gone also makes me feel like maybe he will start viewing the trailer like he views his stall - a place to relax. At home, he may be REALLY missing the other horses and pacing in turn out, but will immediately chill when brought into his stall. And, in spite of still wanting to be a bit hysterical about where Ben was, he did warm up and then DO HIS JOB in the ring. When he was trotting distractedly towards the oxer in warm up, I told him that "Do your job buddy" and he seems to kinda know what that is these days. 


  1. lol at that last picture!! classic haha... also, not gonna lie, i'm a pretty big fan of 'crutches' if it's the difference between getting there, or... not, lol. like yea yea yea we'd all love for our horses to be perfect self loaders or whatever, but, eh, in the meantime i'm a fan of greasing the wheels! also... i feel ya on the instant regret re: flat halter and short lead... doozy came **wayyy too close** to getting away from me when she first got off the trailer at Hunt Club. twas no bueno!! but hurray, everybody lived and got through their classes (eventually), and we can all hope next time will be easier LOL

    1. Choices, man. It's funny I'd just recently switched back to the leather from the rope and long line...

      I'm sure it will get easier with both Doozy and Goggles. I'm completely unsure of how quickly 😂